Carbohydrates. Even the word sounds sinful.
This is the food group people blame most for excess weight in all the wrong places, namely the stomach, hips, and thighs.
In fact, most of us have a love-hate relationship with carbs. We love the taste of many carb-packed foods but hate their effect on our appearance and mood.
And if you’re looking to reduce your intake of foods rich in carbs, you aren’t alone. It’s not an easy road to walk, but we’re here to prop you up nonetheless! Simply follow seven of the easiest ways to cut back on carbs to look and feel better quicker.
1. Identify The Enemy
Carbs are starches, sugars, and fibers most commonly found in grains, fruits, milk products, and vegetables.
But remember, as macronutrients, we need a certain amount of them in our diets to stay healthy. Which is why you often hear about “good carbs” versus “bad carbs.”
Good carbs are complex carbohydrates, meaning they take longer to digest and are better sources of fiber. Bad carbs are simple carbohydrates that are mainly sugar. They cause your blood sugar levels to spike, make you hungry quicker, and lead to yet more carb cravings.
High carbohydrate foods that are in the complex carbohydrate group boost your health. And these are the ones you should be eating.
Some of the most common “good” carbs include:
- Fresh fruits: berries, bananas, oranges, and apples
- Certain grains: oats, quinoa, and buckwheat
- Vegetables: spinach, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, broccoli, and sweet potatoes
- Legumes: lentils, peas, and kidney beans
While some of the most notorious “bad” carbs are:
- Starchy vegetables, like white potatoes and corn
- White flour pasta
- Sugary breakfast cereal
- Sweetened yogurt
- Fruit juice
- Processed bread, muffins, bagels
It’s all about reducing your intake of bad carbs and keeping the healthful ones in your diet.
2. Eliminate Temptation
If you are trying to purge your diet from most carb-heavy foods, do not keep your favorites nearby!
That’s right, no more Doritos as your nighttime snack. And you simply must get rid of that Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll stash in the freezer.
If you only keep more healthful foods in your home, that’s what you’ll eat and snack on. The less temptation around, the less likely you are to indulge in simple carbohydrates. And pretty soon, you’ll notice your cravings for “bad carbs” wane.
3. Eat High-Protein Meals & Snacks
One of the easiest ways to cut back on carbs is to ensure you have protein-packed meal prep.
This is because protein keeps you fuller for longer and even releases the “fullness” hormone PYY, which reduces cravings and hunger.
You don’t have to go full Rocky Balboa and chug raw eggs whenever you even think about a French fry. But your favorite protein-rich foods can replace your former carb-heavy meals and snacks. It gets easier with time — trust us!
Speaking of replacements …
4. Bring On The Subs (No, We Don’t Mean The Sandwiches)
It’s relatively easy to find low-carb food substitutes for your favorite high-carb foods. Thanks to popular diets like keto, paleo, and Atkins, there are many tasty reduced-carb food options out there to suit every taste and need.
Here are some of our fav low-carb swaps:
- Try spiralized zucchini noodles in place of pasta for scrumptious, low-carb meals.
- Keep meat or soy jerky on hand to end trips to the vending machine for chips and candy bars at work.
- Craft a tempting fried rice dish with scrummy riced cauliflower and lots of veggies and protein.
- Use iceberg or bibb lettuce leaves instead of bread for sandwiches.
- Replace your morning sugary cereal with a small serving of natural oatmeal or an egg scramble.
If you doubt your kitchen prowess, learning to conquer a low-carb lifestyle will turn you into Padma Lakshmi in no time. If you’re already comfortable with your kitchen skills, now keep your pantry and fridge packed with low-carb replacements and get to work!
5. Keep A Steely Gaze On Labels
Don’t assume something is low or high carb when grocery shopping, check that nutritional label! It’s a smart habit to develop, no matter what your diet is.
Not exactly sure what to look for?
Understandable! Most of us aren’t nutritionists, just self taught. To know what to look for when reading a nutritional label on a low-carb diet, check this out.
6. Focus On Movement
If your overall goal is to lose weight and feel great, cutting carbs alone isn’t enough.
Be sure you get plenty of exercise, too.
It can be as simple as:
- Taking a walk around the block before or after dinner
- Parking your car far away from the store entrance when shopping
- Opting for stairs over elevators
7. Don’t Go Overboard
Once the initial carb cravings vamoose, it’s easy to go overboard and take your carb aversion too far.
But remember: no diet is worth hurting your mind and body.
If you want to cut back on “bad” carbs to improve your health and maybe shed a bit of excess weight, that’s wonderful. But completely eliminating carbs is unhealthy. And actually, carbs have a lot going for them!
High-carb foods often have other dietary benefits, such as:
- Being rich in fiber
- Providing natural energy
- Helping our minds focus
- Aiding in muscle development
Instead of eliminating an entire macronutrient, focus on a more specific goal, such as “no potato chips after 6 pm” or “sugary sodas on Saturdays only.” These help you easily cut back on the bad carbs and will quickly benefit your mind and body.
While cutting back on carbs is never fun, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It’s something most people try from time to time, whether for the sake of their appearance or their health.
Give these seven easy ways to cut back on carbs a shot and figure out the perfect carb balance for your lifestyle once and for all.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Copper Beech Harrisonburg to help them with their online marketing.